A small ranch with few acres will require a dog that stays close to home and refrains from wandering off of the limited property. Because livestock is raised on a ranch, the dog should also be highly trainable and able to work around livestock without chasing or harassing it. Most breeds that are suitable for ranch life will work well around a small amount of livestock as well as they will around a large herd of livestock. These herding breeds and working breeds make the best ranch dogs.
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Hard-working border collies
A border collie is considered to be an extremely intelligent canine. A loyal and hard-working animal, the border collie is a herding dog and can be trained to herd sheep, cattle, or ducks. Border collies love being put to work, and thrive when they have a job to do. Their high energy drive and intelligence level mean that they need lots of exercise and both mental and physical stimulation. As one of the fastest dog breeds — running an average of 20 to 30 miles per hour — border collies can easily keep up with any herd.
Because they can be trained to work multiple types of animals, the border collie is well suited to a small ranch that has a variety of livestock. They are a medium-sized breed, standing between 18 inches and 22 inches and come in a variety of coat types and colors.
Intelligent Pembroke Welsh corgis
One of the shorter herding breeds, the corgi is characterized by short, stout legs on a long body with pointed ears and a short tail. Most corgis stand between 10 inches and 12 inches. Pembroke Welsh corgis are considered an intelligent and people-oriented breed. They are highly energetic, generally live 12 to 13 years, and are best for active households. Corgis were bred to herd cattle and need daily exercise, especially as they can be prone to becoming overweight.
Due to their small size and short legs, the corgi is best suited to a small ranch where the distances traveled to work stock are not as great as it might be on a larger ranch. Their counterpoint, the Cardigan Welsh corgi, are also great choices.
Australian shepherds love herding
Another herding dog, the Australian shepherd, has a medium-length, thick coat, and comes in a variety of colors. This all-around breed stands between 18 inches and 23 inches tall. Australian shepherds are strong and fast and are considered well-rounded, loyal farm and family dogs. This versatile breed can carry out a variety of jobs including herding, home protection, and companionship, eliminating the need for multiple dogs on a small ranch.
Brave and bold Beaucerons
A herding breed with the intelligence of a border collie in a leaner body, Beaucerons are the perfect addition to any ranch. These energetic and outgoing hard-working dogs are easy to train as they are highly intelligent. They tend to live as long as 12 years, and are very loyal to their families. Originally from France, these dogs were originally bred to tend sheep and later to serve in World War I and II as messengers and guards.
These dogs are great hiking and herding companions and will make a great addition to any ranch.
Extremely strong Great Pyrenees
This large, extremely strong dog is a member of the working group that's bred to protect livestock. While they are typically friendly, easy-going dogs, when confronted with a predator, Great Pyrenees will defend their flock effectively against wolves, coyotes, and even bears. They are highly territorial and loyal but can handle being alone. They are highly intelligent and generally calm dogs that live on average for 10 to 12 years.
The Great Pyrenees has a very thick, white or off-white coat that requires regular brushing but allows them to survive as an outdoor dog in cold conditions. One Great Pyrenees will protect a small herd effectively, while larger ranches with larger herds may require more than one of these dogs.